thank you for watching. >> send me an e-mail or go to our web site [laughter] that will do. see you tomorrow. >> a world record car collection. >> he just kept going. he never stopped. >> i believe his goal was to have one of every car ever made. >> a maverick driven to leave a mark. >> he went to the auction, bought the whole lot. >> his family promises to carry out his grand plan. >> i think there was a feeling of dread, relief, excitement, and enthusiasm. >> love it. love the hair flowing. the top down. >> but can they fulfill the patrio patriarchs dying wish? >> you don't want that car oil on your hand.
>> i'm jamie colby. today i'm driving outside tacoma, washington, on the way to meet the hares o heirs of a man who started with nothing. he left his heirs enormous wealth, but also an overwhelming task. >> i'm doug lemay. my father earl lemay passed away in 2000 2000 is and left us with a full-time collection. >> his father lived here for more than two decades. he now lives and works here. >> hey, doug. >> hi, jamie. glad you could come. >> i'm so happy to be here. is this a house or garage? >> well, it's a five-bedroom house with
with -- >> as doug shows me around, it's easy to see this isn't just a home, but a reflection of his father's passion for the automobile. >> i mean, doug, i have to be honest, i've been to car shows that haven't had this many cars. >> dad did it for a long time. >> everywhere you looked, there's a collector car. what's your dream ride? a 1930 cadillac 452 convertible? a 1961 metropolitan? it's probably here. somewhere. there are even rooms completely filled with the same model or manufacturer. jamie: these are all pack packa? >> yes. this whole row. >> am i allowed to touch? >> have a seat if you want. >> you don't have to ask me twice. oh, my goodness, look at the steering wheel. it has my name written all over. so many do.
lemay'lemay's fascination with cars started before he could reach the metal. nancy is harold's widow. >> his mother said he loved anything with wheels. >> harold is born in 1919 to a single mother struggling to make a living and care for three young children. when harold is just three, maria feels she has no choice, but to place harold in the custody of friends who can better take care of him. when the couple comes to pick up harold, they're driving a chevy. >> harold was apprehensive. he's only three. hadn't met these people before. he described, this portly man behind the wheel said harold, you need to sit on my lap and you can drive the car home. >> little harold puts his hands on the wheels of that chevy.
feeling a life-long love affair with the automobile. after driving a truck in world war ii, harold returns home and builds up a garbage and scrap collecting business. it may not be glamorous, trash proves to be very profitable. >> how successful was his business? >> very successful. jamie: lemay enterprises eventually groses to be the tenth largest trash removal in america. annual revenues topping $1 million. in 1963, harold marries nancy. a few years later, he has another life changing moment. >> a friend of his was in the monte club. that would be just the thing for him to get into. >> once he joins the club, a lightbulb goes off. harold wants to collect classic cars. he begins with american models. mostly chevys and fords. >> how did he find these
cars? >> he would find them himself. >> by the 1970s, harold revs us. as his grandson says, so did his wish list. >> it didn't matter where in the country the car was. he would say, you want to go for a drive. then you're crossing from oregon to california. >> as his passion grows, harold buys any car nearly he comes across. >> grandpa never called himself a car collector. he was a car saver. he saved cars. >> harold couldn't stand to see a car crushed crushed. >> he bought the whole wrecking house in idaho. >> harold's collection of cars totaled into the thousands. >> he just kept going. he never stopped. >> you never said, honey, enough already. we could use that money for a vacation? >> no. but when we went on
vacation, it was always for a car somewhere on the route. >> as harold's fleet expands, he runs out of room in a 300 car garage. >> he would buy houses to use the garage. rent the house, not the garage. >> he buys this 87-acre former catholic school called marymount. we'll circle back here. >> how many conversations did you have with harold about what should happen to the collection when he passed? >> he never go to about thought about pass at all? >> his heirs are thinking about the huge challenge rumbling towards them once harold is gone. >> you have to decide with your life, what will you do with the stuff? that's a confrontational
thing. you have to have a plan. it's a burden on everyone else. >> harold makes that plan. plus, the one car he really wants, but never gets. >> and now, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. what was the first official white house car? was it an 1899 packard? a 1990 for taft. or 1929 cadillac for or 1929 cadillac for hoover in the an at ally bank, no branches equals great rates. it's a fact. kind of like social media equals anti-social. hey guys, i want you to meet my fiancée, denise. hey. good to meet you dennis. iand quit a lot,t but ended up nowhere. now i use this. the nicoderm cq patch, with unique extended release technology, helps prevent the urge to smoke all day. i want this time to be my last time. that's why i choose nicoderm cq.
>> yeah, he had made the decision through my grandmother that they were going to create a museum. >> that's right. a museum. just for harold's cars. the family starts by requesting land from the city of tacoma. but before officials will award the property, they ask harold for an initial donation of at least 300 cars to get the project going. >> 10% of the collection. is that hard for him? >> i think it almost killed him. he had this document that he had to put his signature on, saying that he wasn't going to own this stuff at some point. and i can remember his hands shaking. he kind of took a deep breath. he handed me the piece of paper and stormed off back towards
home. >> on november 4th, 2000, after a massive heart attack, harold dies at the age of 81. his heirs inherit his grand car collection, and even grander dream of a museum to house it. >> i think there is a feeling of dread, relief, and excitement. >> how many cars are there, and what are they worth? the family calls in larry baton in charlottesville, virginia. >> it was a massive operation. the cars were in 52 different locations. his filing system was a 32-gallon trash bag. he never had any intention of selling or marketing a vehicle. we worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. >> the team uncovers countless
classic cars only harold knew he had. >> we would open a door that hadn't been opened in decades. it would be full of cars that had been there for years. covered with flower, like snow inside a building. there were bumblebee fords. pizaros. cars that were so unique. in all, 2,973 cars. not including the countless half wrecked hulk. >> he wanted one of every car ever made. >> larry is not allowed to say what the whole collection is worth. they peg it at $100 million at the time of harold's death. with the inventory complete, the family tries to realize a car museum. it hits roadblocks. >> creating a museum is like
harold's family is struggling to honor his dying wish, the creation of a museum where its entire 3000-plus car collection can be on public supply. one thadisplay. one that will be there is the model t. i meet for a driving lesson. step one, hand crank the car to start it. >> what do you think? >> i think you're up to it. give it a good crank. not quite. >> ouch. [laughter] wait. is this a trick? oh, come on. get me a car that works. >> there you go. >> hey. all right. there you go. >> right on. >> the model t is considered the first affordable automobile, but it's not
particularly easy to drive. it has three pedals, but the brake is on the right. what's it doing there? jamie: you did clear the trees today? >> and the sidewalk. jamie: as we scoot around, it's easy to see why harold fell in love with this classic. i love it. feel the hair blowing, the top down. >> there's a big tree. big tree. jamie: brake. brake. brake. okay. brake. oh, that's forward. wait. brake. oh, yeah, that thing on the right, throttle up. oh, my gosh. perfect. not a scratch. but a collision is in store for the lemay family as it tries to get its museum and to drive. >> you need a building. fund-raising, all the next steps. >> the family donates 600 cars to the project and $15 million too, but it's not enough. so they hire a
fundraiser who tells them they have to have corporate sponsors for more big bucks. that will mean the lemays are told they will have to sacrifice their control and vision for the museum. the family agrees, but soon find themselves two on a board of 30. >> on the one hand, you want to see the legacy restored. on the other hand, you can't have the control once it's in the museum. >> the museum adds cars from other collections to attract national attention. then fund-raising runs tight. the board tells the family they don't have the budget to preserve all of harold's cars. many of the ones he donated, they say, are redundant. they decide on a step that harold lemay would have never considered. sell some of his cars. >> if you could have controlled that situation. would you have asked them to sell other cars?
i don't sell many cars. jamie: in fact, harold had only sold three collector cars in his lifetime. family members are dismayed. >> none of us wanted to be the one that says we split all the stuff up. you don't want that car oil on your >> if you didn't want them, why ask for them. it seems like they wanted to sell them. >> the museum auctions 145 of harold's autos. their estimated value well into the millions. his packard sells for 113k. his 1936 rolls-royce goes for more than 65 grand. the funds do their part to help the museum keep going. when the sleek looking building finally opens in 2012, its name has been changed from the harold lemay museum to
lemay american museum. that reflects the shift in focus from harold lemay to cars from other donors as well. that's discouraging to harold's heirs because his wish was for a museum for just his collection. the family believes there's still a chance to keep his vision alive. >> what is this place? would you believe a second museum just second museum just minutes down the e*trade is all about seizing opportunity. and i'd like to... cut. so i'm gonna take this opportunity to direct. thank you, we'll call you. evening, film noir, smoke, atmosphere... bob... you're a young farmhand and e*trade is your cow. milk it. e*trade is all about seizing opportunity.
>> now, back to "strange inheritance." jamie: harold lemay's family continues to face the dilemma of how to honor his legacy. a chunk of harold's huge car collection has been sold off. a museum in tacoma washington, originally meant to be solely devoted to harold has a different mission. then a solution. the family decides to refit that school property that harold
purchased in the mid-1990s. eric, what is this place? >> this is the other part of the equation that was our family learning how to save the world's largest car collection. this is mar marymount. it's an event center. a museum. >> your museum? >> yeah. we wanted another museum that was about the lemay family and our taste in collecting. we may be only 6 miles apart, but we're very different culturally from each other. they consider marymount the down to earth little brother. the sleek modern museum. it's the dirty finger version that celebrates harold's cars and nobody elses. it depends on the hard work of eric. everyone from the tour guide to the director is a volunteer. are you in the black or
in the red? >> at some point, and it's not that far away, this will be a self-sustaining business. it looks really like it's going to be healthy for a long, long time. ♪ jamie: before i leave, there's one last car eric tells me i need to see. >> it's a 1948 tucker. >> wait a minute, harold wanted a tucker, he never got it. >> my grandmother bought it after he died. a group of our family went to an auction and grandma bought the tucker that he couldn't have before he passed away. >> unbelievable. so he left, but you knew it was that important to have? >> we knew it was that important. jamie: what would harold say? >> he would love it. i think if grandpa were to look at how hard we've tried to do what he was hoping we'd do, i think he'd be really proud of it. it took a whole
community. it took a lot of volunteers. it took a family that never got off track with each other. that's his legacy, basically. ♪ jamie: one last harold lemay story, back in the '80s at a garbage vacation in chicago, he caught wind of a 901 1914 baby d chevy. the day he said goodbye to his mom, he road in it. harold bought it on the spot and loaded it in the back of his fancy garbage truck that he purchased at that trade show. he and nancy hauled that chevy back to tacoma. there it sits to this day. he never let it go. i'm jamie colby. thanks so much for watching "strange inheritance." and, remember, you can't take it with you.
jamie: i am jamie colby. in tucson arizona to meet the family of a man who's spent his entire life building homes the lead to a massive collection for furniture i was married to edward bennett he left as an inheritance that had collectors around the world knocking. she is his third wife the last of eight homes that they shared until his death in 2013. and 33 years of the blended family. jamie: tell me about edmund.
he was a very complex man. board in late 1920 washington d.c. serving in both world war ii and career. by 1953 he is ready for peacetime endeavors -- takes a job at the state department. making there'll contribution to the baby boom, he buys to lots in washington with plans to build a home on one and still the other. >> hopefully there be enough money and the same thing happens. >> actually was five houses before the family got to move into a larger house. >> said of the bureaucrat edmund bennett has a new career as a real-estate developer.
>> a 300-acre division. >> you is very aware to preserve the natural habitat to make it unique. >> to have complete control of the project, no metal fences no outdoor clotheslines. if you don't like it don't buy the house. >> there is always a vision of what he wanted. it was difficult to understand those in his immediate circle might have his own vision. >> what is it like to live with a man like that? >> not called. whenever differences we had to learn how to negotiate. sometimes it was at the top of ever longs. jamie: he wants something
that has though well factor viet matches his zero naturalistic design philosophy. his search leads him to the studio of the woodworker named george. >> george was known for taking naturally felt would -- wood to create works for that specific piece of wood. jamie: george's story oddly parallels bennett's. board in washington state eagerness and architecture degree from m.i.t.. 1942 just as then it is being inducted into the army george and his wife and young daughter to her with 110,000 japanese americans forcibly relocated in the japanese camp. he meets a master woodworker who crafts him to have
beautiful furniture with japanese hand tools. after the war george bell's a workshop in pennsylvania where he uses the century old techniques to create modern masterpieces. every tree has its destiny. >> a loving the wood to speak for itself by trying to repeal the beauty in the wooded area and part of that is as beautiful natural edge which is characteristic of the work. jamie: to better understand that modernism i turned to a contemporary craftsmen deeply influenced by george. >> of a but to help you make the table. >> to get started takes a chisel and very light little taps. jamie: i know what it means to give a tree a second life through this technique. i am doing a good job.
>> pc why bennett is dazzled when he first steps into george's studio in 1963. his workshop is coming with furniture and dozens of pieces including lawn chairs, benches, headboards and commission al lamp for as little as $110. >> it quickly became a marriage made in heaven and they recognized in each other a tremendous appreciation for design. jamie: that marriages memorialized between the two men. and george personally check selfie installation including the $350 will case when he visits the development. >> it was a bonus for george because it was a showplace for his furniture as well as being a bonus for end to
have people, see the committee. >> began to it seems it is so bitter. >> and then sells out for real estate and banking and then hangs on to the furniture over the next 40 years t-bills every one of his homes with it. >> did you let your kids play? >> they played, they don't, they peaked, they would come in from the swimming pool to sit on it. >> george achieved superstar status in 1973 when you're governor rockefeller commissioned 200 pieces like these for his mansion in
westchester. his reputation and keeps growing even after his death in 1990. jamie: in 2014 half a century after bennett's first visit george's workshop is designated a national landmark. the developer and a woodworker, two men had of their time. >> 4500 on the internet? >> just how far? and his bentley is about to find out. >> it is one of the lots from the bennett family. >> next.
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and to of ens children grow around this stuff with the tables and chairs and the bench all crafted by george. one piece in particular embodied the close on shared by the children. >> my favorite piece by far was the dining room table. >> we would gather round the table and it turned out that it was blended quite well. >> the black walnut tree given the second life by george and he cherishes and for the rest of his. >> is the center of the family there were ford generations at that table. >> it seems like there's another person another chair that there. jamie: march 2013 the family gathered around it for of neil.
said is 93 and seriously ill. >> sitting at the head of the table where he always sits. we didn't know for sure it would be his last one but it was. >> two years later edmund then it dies. jamie: it is so kind to share. >> his will provides generously ford ibm but he leaves a large collection to his four biological children. what they don't inherit is is almost obsessive love for it. >> we all talked first does anybody want to keep any of the pieces? >> it was an easy decision we could not all keep the furniture. >> they decided to sell but how? where and how much? that is when an ex-girlfriend and bruce and
and often the extra chair at the table offers to help. >> i am the huge antiquing and bennett fan and so was a match made. >> she is always showed tremendous interest and as a family friend has stayed close. jamie: director in a marketing firm wants to get an estimate for the value of the collection and she takes this lamp to a professional appraisal. >> i called elizabeth she called me and i could hardly breathe. do you know, how much this is? i said no. >> $10,000. >> if a single lamp is worth $10,000 then they must be sitting on a small fortune. >> the excitement builds from there. >> $20,000 is the visit.
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lamps and a rocking chair and a dining room set beloved by four generations of the family. it has been half a century since bennett first walked into george's workshop and he installed his work in the model home. george you died in 1980 has become one of the most iconic and collectible american designers. still then its heirs are not interested to keep their strange inheritance so they decide to sell the collection three los angeles company, bell a modern options a perfect excuse to pay a visit to the owner. jamie: is is george's peace? in a round table and around
mckeon studied and collected george's furniture almost 30 years. >> the first george peace that i bought i may have been 18 or 19. it was still consider used furniture. jamie: once the auction date is set they ship the collection to los angeles. >> do you have a reaction when you saw it packed up? >> we had the last family dinner and we sat around the table and talked about edmond and we all held hands and said a prayer of thanksgiving at the table and for edmonton and would hope the next family that have the tables have as the pleasures that we had with it. jamie: as the big day approaches diane and the children fly to los angeles
and of course, pam is there also. >> i would not have missed being at that actions -- auction for the world's. >> we said we would sit on our hands not to buy another piece. >> we were all nervous. >> i take out my phone to film. >> the first piece is the wall piece he bought in 1963 as debating it is now worth between 20 and $30,000. couldn't really go for that much? >> we were speechless.
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>> one of the lots. >> what shade with agitation as the bidding begins on his modern furniture. the first piece up way back whether from the model home and bidding begins at $20,000. >> is it just us. it goes up and another bid comes. on line comes in and and he would say wait then somebody would pick it up. >> i am sitting next to my son slapping his leg. matthew. matthew. matthew. the next thing you knew it is far above the of high estimate. pam and i are like this.
[laughter] the hammer price was $53,200,500 and that was crazy. jamie: almost twice thought i estimate and 150 times what he paid for it in the '60s. >> george couch 4500 on the internet. >> the first piece sets off a frenzy. >> headboard from the family commission. >> the bench? $32,200,500 for the sliding door cabinet, 16,000. the bench, $14,000. though lamp that was appraised goes to the l.a. county museum of art $12,000. and the dining room table with pulled chairs, the one that head and diane sons and
daughters and grandchildren had so much joy, $90,000 more than anything else in the collection. >> my daughter had a little mitt the breakdown. to her it was like you were selling brand of -- grandpa. >> once she talked through it with me she realized it was a good thing. >> he meant a lot to me and he was a great guy. coming from that greatest generation. >> the auction yields almost $400,000 a new standard of value for the works of george. bennett knew what he was doing getting all that furniture from one house to
the next. the bennett family "strange inheritance" from pennsylvania was given a second life from the hands of a master craftsman been witnessing a happy family life shipped off to collectors around the world treasured now as art for gore george was right each tree does have its own destiny. and one trees destiny will have another generation of bennett's one thing that she keeps for herself. >> my dad had a rocking chair here that i reflect with the free form arm so that is a piece i decided to keep. i was thinking in the b mind sol rocket child in this chair survey she has now furnished her house with other midcentury designers. >> to george furniture's god
and edmund is:. jamie: what is that like for you? >> i miss edmund terribly. i go by what is important to me that do not mourn that which is lost but rejoice instead the you have it. we had a wonderful life together. jamie: it then it not only assisted his column be filled with george's furniture but he also had very definite ideas what would or would not work on though ball right up until the very end. weeks before he died he sought by ian hanging things on the wall. he turned to his kids and said i am very worried about didy and by three european art. is it stated than he is still resting in peace. she says.
thanks for watching "strange inheritance". and remember, you can't take it with you. sit. >> a rock 'n roll legend. >> crazy thing about roy orbison from 1959 to 1964 he had 21, top 40 hits. >> he dies too soon with 3 young sons. >> he se secretly wanted us to e musicians but he was not going to push. >> i rubbed my eyes and look add the this. >> i have a cassette of a song nobody heard before. before. >> it will bring roy and his boys together again. jamie: had you always dreamt of plays with your dad. >> always, yeah. >> have mercy